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The Final Push

November 10, 2019

Still, round the corner, there may wait, a new road or a gate” JR Tolkein

Only 1,537km from San Francisco to Victoria if you count the twisting and scenic route of Highway 1 and 101. It has to be one of the most beautiful drives other than the Garden Route in South Africa (but it’s only 300km)!

We had 5 days to meander up the coast. It’s not really meandering as there’s little time to dawdle and take photos, hike trails or sample wines. It’s drive, drive and drive. And since we don’t like to set up camp for less than 2 nights there’s little time for lingering.

The sun shone, the nights were cool and the scenery spectacular. We never saw one sailboat, fishboat or tanker out on the coast but there were deserted beaches, quiet campgrounds and not that much traffic.

The last time either of us drove this route was back in the 1970s but not much had changed. We even saw a few hitchhikers along the route but had no room to pick them up having our worldly belongings from Sage onboard as well as the Thule container.

Gone were the wild tied dyed clothes of the late 60s and early 70s to be replaced by typical dull earth toned coastal jackets and jeans. Instead of VW vans one saw swanky SUVs and Teslas (by the way counted 14 Teslas as we drove from the east coast but upon reaching San Francisco we lost count)

I just couldn’t leave my Tesla in Montreal
Sunset over the bay in San Francisco

Leaving the Teslas and the smoke from the fires we headed north and 5 days later landed in Victoria.

We did discover a stowaway on our route north from San Francisco.

new canadian citizen

This guy climbed onboard to get away from a dog called Ajax in San Francisco. Ajax is a grand-dog of friends we stayed with. Ajax is a puppy and as such has a habit of tearing toys apart. So, this guy climbed onboard. Unfortunately he didn’t have the right identification to cross the border in Canada. So, he got across by claiming refugee status. Welcomed with open arms by Canada immigration he finally escaped Ajax and the American political system.

Ajax’s viscous stare inspired by a certain political figure south of the border

Our road trip comes to an end and thus you as the reader are released from having to read another one of our blogs – at least until we start another adventure. The decision now is to figure out what to do with the blog – kill it or keep going…

Oregon coast – no cruising here unless you like surfing through bar harbours
Home at last
Halifax to Victoria – 11,619km and $1300 in fuel!

5 Provinces – 10 States

October 25, 2019
Moab National Park

We have now completed our coast to coast, cross North America tenting road trip. We are now in San Francisco visiting friends and looking forward to attending a celebration to welcome an old sailing friend into San Francisco after an epic single handed voyage (see Figure Eight Voyage).

Let’s roll the date back to early September when Sage’s new owner, Remy, took possession and within 48 hours had to guide Sage through Hurricane Dorian in Halifax Harbour.

The day before the hurricane we had had a great sail with Remy on Halifax Harbour. We returned to the marina only to leave poor Remy with the preparations for the oncoming hurricane telling him that we were leaving Halifax for our trek across North America!

We purposely made our way to the west end of PEI to visit some old friends, Mike and Claire. Unfortunately, we arrived 2 days after Mike Gaudet died but our timing was such that we could attend a large gathering of friends and family who were celebrating Mike’s life. I think we almost gave Claire a heart attack . We hadn’t seen or talked to Claire in almost 28 years so was shocked to see us at the event. We got together the day after and had a great chance to catch up.

Damage from Hurricane Dorian was minor in PEI other than loss of power (we filled the bathtub in the motel just in case) and a large number of downed trees. Reports from Remy onboard Sage indicated she survived with no damage for which we were very thankful even though she was no longer ours.

Crossing to the mainland put us in New Brunswick. It was a quick trip through NB and on to the Gaspe in Quebec. The Gaspe’s south shore was nothing to get excited about but we came around a corner and decided to pull over and were astounded to see the view in the picture below;

Roche Perce

The north coast of the Gaspe was spectacular – the road crept along the ocean coastline, the villages were small and intimate and always with a church dominating the landscape. Not enough time to dawdle so drive on with a stop at Les Jardins to Metis and on to Quebec City

Here the weather closed in but we found a lovely BnB on the south shore of the river with a view over to the citadel. Out the backdoor and along the cycle path for 5 minutes and we arrived at the ferry to take us across to the north shore and the old town of Quebec City.

The view from our bedroom over to the citadel

After a day of walking all over town and meeting for dinner with Connie’s brother and wife, Jerry and Debbie, we stormed away toward Ontario and visits with both our families.

In Ontario we picked up our last needed remaining item to continue across the continent. Napier tents in St. Catherines makes a tent that attaches to the back of most SUVs.

Getting one chance to set up the tent on a practice run at Connie’s mums place we piled in all our earthly belongings and headed west.

First stop Point Peele – the southernmost point in Canada – it’s on the same latitude (41degrees) as Eureka, CA. Point Peele national park is a great birding area for migrating birds but in late September and early October it’s the monarch butterflies that use it as a jumping off point for heading south. It’s a spectacular park.

The border – yes, now head south to avoid the northern route which proved to be a wise decision – a few days later Alberta and Montana received a large amount of snow and we don’t relish the idea of waking up in a tent and shovelling the snow to get out.

Michigan, Indiana, Illinois, Missouri, Kansas, Colorado, Utah, Arizona, Nevada and California – I90, I69, I57, I70, I25, 115, 50, 550, 128, I15, 95, 266, 168, 395, 120, and finally the 580 into San Francisco were just some of the roads we travelled and camped along.

We saw only one other car from Canada and it was from Alberta

Temperatures varied in the campgrounds from hot (34C) and humid in Indiana to 18C and -3C in Colorado. The further west we went the drier it got. The further west we went the higher in altitude and the cooler at night it got but daytime was always sunny and warm.

The closer to the Monarch Pass the more excited we were getting. Weather was improving and we felt we were back in home territory as we headed up to Monarch Pass (2,878m). At Monarch Pass we met The Real Sarahs – a trio of women all named Sarah formed a group who were touring western US and Canada. We traded travelling stories and learnt they had been playing on Vancouver Island in Campbell River, Port Alberni, Duncan and Victoria.

So from Monarch Pass we thought it would be all downhill. Well, of course, the western part of the continent is full of mountains and passes and for the next while we were crossing deserts, climbing mountains and driving over even more passes but none as high as Monarch Pass.

But, we were almost home. Anything west of the great divide we feel is home – mountains, deserts and the Pacific Ocean. So, on we drove west climbing more passes, sitting in hot springs, seeing and eating more mexican foods, clear skies, warm days and cool (cold) evenings.

There is an area called the 4 corners – it’s the meeting of the four states of Colorado, New Mexico, Utah and Arizona. Coming out of Colorado we were in the northern section of this area. It’s marked by red sedimentary rocks. spectacularly sculpted sandstone arches and cliffs, at times raging rivers, dry desert-like landscape and it’s peppered by National and State parks as well as protected forest lands. It’s an area we could spend many months exploring.

We visited parks with names such as Mammoth National Park, Arches National Park, Mueller State Park, Gunnison National Forest, Dominguez-Escalante Conservatioon Area, McInnis Canyons National Park, Monti-La Sal National Forest etc – we didn’t have the time to stop everywhere but the protected areas are numerous and beautiful.

Inspired by Free One movie Connie and Tony go out for their first climbing experience – ha, ha

After so much spectacular natural scenery we changed abruptly headed to Las Vegas. Neither of us had ever been. No need to add pictures as most people have a vision of what it’s like. We decided to stop for one night and take in a Cirque du Soleil show. Bellagio theatre for Cirque du Soleil was awesome and a real treat from forests, BBQ fires, raging rivers and white line fever. After 12 hours we were ready to leave – smoke drove us out of the casinos and hotel lobbies.

Onward to the mountain passes north of Las Vegas, up and past Lida, over the mountains to Deep Springs and on to Big Pine and Bishops before climbing up to Mammoth, the top most ski town in California. We camped close to Mammoth and spent a day sampling the hot springs. We luxuriated in the warmth of the water and the scenery.

French Camp, CA

Most campsites were well run whether they be Bureau of Land Management, State or National Parks or privately run. Some came with water and electricity to the actual site but most just with a fire pit and a picnic table. But all came with well cleaned washrooms and some with showers.

From Mammoth we made our way into San Francisco. A hasty drive through Yosemite National Park. A promise was made to return someday soon then we rushed into San Francisco to visit with sailing friends Marilyn and Leo

Connie, Leo and Marilyn

The other reason we were in San Francisco was to see Randall sail in under the Golden Gate Bridge completing his Figure 8 voyage.

We dipped our feet into the Pacific Ocean – we were home, but not quite. We still have the northern trek through California, Oregon and Washington to do before we hop on the ferry to Victoria.

The Story of Selling Sage

September 7, 2019

Every thing must come to an end. So, as with everything, our sailing onboard Sage has come to an end.

For most of the past summer, as mentioned in the last posting, Sage has been advertised for sale. We made the best of the summer by not thinking of a sale and thinking we would store the boat in Nova Scotia for the winter and who knows return in the spring and sail once again north and into Newfoundland.

The east coast of Canada, despite the short season, offers an unbelievable coast to explore. There are so many anchorages and such beautiful scenery that it would take many lifetimes to get to know.

But another sail was not to be. Remy continued to show interest in purchasing Sage and by August 20th an offer was in place and accepted. However, the logistics of making the transfer was not confirmed and the summer season was ending. We decided to get the boat south; closer to Halifax.

By the time we got to Halifax the deal was sealed and Remy became the new owner of Sage. Remy took us for a lovely sail on his new boat through Halifax Harbour with me showing Remy the various systems onboard Sage. Remy revealed his plans to take Sage up to Quebec City for a winter refit and then next season starting some more adventures for Sage. We are happy for Sage and for Remy.

Tony, Remy, Connie

Our loss is bittersweet. They say there are two good times for boat owners – the day you buy a boat and the day you sell the boat. I know we are going to have a hard time adjusting to our revamped life but we have plenty of ideas and we are fortunate enough to have choices.

For the moment though we have something to keep our minds occupied – a hurricane. Hurricane Dorian is about to hit. We assisted Remy with some advise on how to prepare Sage for the hurricane. Sage is still in Halifax and in a well built marina. Remy has done what he can in terms of preparing himself, Sage and boats around him for the hurricane.

We on the other hand got out of town! However, that hasn’t spared us the wrath of Dorian. We are in PEI and in a location where the eye of Dorian will be upon us in about 1 hour.

The eye of Dorian is at the north-eastern shore of PEI and we are in a motel just south of the ’24’ figure

Summer closure

August 12, 2019

The summer is soon coming to closure and thoughts turn to what to do for the fall and winter season.

Most of the summer has been spent in and around the Bras d’Or lakes taking in the music, time with friends and new acquaintances and enjoying the fine summer weather of the east coast.

It’s time to go though. Plans were in place to store the boat in Gold River, NS but a call from Quebec has stalled our plans. The call from Quebec has come as a result of Sage being advertised for sale in Yachtworld. Remy has come to Baddeck to take a look at Sage but he has already flown to Grenada to look at a very similar boat there.

The season is moving on and the only concrete decision we have is to store Sage in Gold River. Just as we start to plan to leave a low appears several hundred miles off the coast of Nova Scotia. It’s one of the first tropical disturbance to appear on the NOAA site for August. It’s not a hurricane as it’s far enough north but it has a significant northerly wind for which we druel over as a possible opportunity to get to Halifax.

With an anti-clockwise spin the winds should be good to get to Halifax quickly. It’s not really the speed we are concerned about but rather using the weather system to avoid having to tack down the east coast against the prevailing SW winds normal for this time of the year. The SW winds would have given us the opportunity to see some of the incredible anchorages to explore along this coast but the sails would have been tough with big seas and strong winds which we weren’t keen on experiencing. The water is cold, the coast rock strewn and if there are communities they are very small and lacking services for people without land transportation. I will say the coast is a cruisers dream with lots to explore and few people and/or boats to tangle with.

Our last stop was St. Peter’s which is just inside the lock into the Bras d’Or lakes. A small community but with a wonderful marina run by the local Lions Club. Has a good anchorage, mooring buoys if needed and docks for luxury. We wanted a bit of luxury after alomst 6 weeks of being ‘on-the-hook’. We took the opportunity of plugging in, filling the water tanks, washing off the salt water and storing things away for the SW swells of the North Atlantic awaiting us outside the locks.

St. Peter’s Canal

St. Peter’s is a collection spot for all boats heading south at this time of the year. There were boats from France, United States, various areas of Canada and Germany. Always a time for sailors to sit around the table with a bottle of wine and tell stories of where they have been and where they are planning to go for the coming winter season.

There is only one lock to go through. Getting an early start we went through the locks in the afternoon and tied up on the Atlantic side. With a promised northerly sector wind everyone had left the tie-up by 0700hrs.

And what a wild sail it was. We managed to follow the red buoys down the east coast and into Halifax with a rip roaring wind and pretty flat seas since we were on the lee side of Nova Scotia. There were periods of waves breaking into the cockpit, fishing boats to avoid and a beautifully clear night sky to guide us along the coast.

In 24 hours we sailed 145nm sailing into downtown Halifax at first light starting the engine only 10 minutes from the docks. An absolutely magnificent and exciting sail.

Summer Sounds of Music

August 9, 2019

One good thing about music, when it hits you, you feel no pain” Bob Marley


With warming temperatures, sunny skies and a fresh breeze we sailed from Lunenburg and into the Bras d’Or Lakes of Cape Breton with a 2 night stop in St. Peters and 2 nights in Canso, the home of the Stan Roger’s music festival.

What an entrance to the Bras d’Or Lakes. Only one lock at St Peter’s canal and in 10 minutes we popped into the Bras d’Or Lakes – painless and a relief. Out of the constant easterly Atlantic swell and into the flat calm waters of the Lake.

St. Peter’s Locks

We were now in Cape Breton. First stop St. Peter’s Lions Club Marina! Two nights with cool gray weather but warm greetings from staff at the marina and a rousing music session around the lounge in the evening. Our first introduction to the fiddle soaked land of northern Nova Scotia. Just a casual get together on a Wednesday night with one fiddler, one singer, five guitars and one squeezebox player.

Time was running out. We were trying to get to Baddeck to rendevous with a few members of Connie’s family so the push was on to move over to the northwestern part of the Bras d’Or Lakes.

Baddeck – a town of perhaps 3,000 in the summer and probably a few hundred in the winter! Baddeck, from the water, is tucked in behind Kidstone Island. It has a government wharf, albeit small, and a small marina, Baddeck Marina.

Kidstone Island Lighthouse

The town’s major economic driver is tourism and the large number of Americans who come to sumer homes in the area.

Baddeck was home to Alexander Graham Bell and there is a Bell Museum. Bell’s home can be seen on a hill in the distance and talking to one of his relatives the home is still furnished and even has paperwork spread out on desks as it was when he died. The home was once open to the public but no longer as the family has been known to say there were too many artifacts taken so keeping it open as a museum was not in the cards

Settling into Baddeck life has been easy despite having no public transportation and no rental cars. There’s much to see in the surrounding area but much we can’t see due to restrictive transportation. There are no cars to rent and little public transportation.

That hasn’t stopped us though. Being in the heart of Cape Breton music country we have taken advantage of attending caleidhs, theatres and other musical events.

The best so far has been a visit to The Barn in Margaree, 30km from Baddeck to see Ashley MacIsaac and friends.

How to get there – Hitchhike…

Connie hitching a ride outside her favourite Cape Breton restaurant

Yes, even 70 (or close to) year old people can hitchhike. We got lots of great stares, fast cars roaring by, slow downs for looking but no pick up and, inevitably, a pick up that got us down the road.

On the way we had three rides. Met some locals who we now see at the Baddeck market on Wednesdays, some out of town strangers who drove us further than they were going as we ‘sang for our rides” i.e. we told stories as we really can’t sing. We even had a chance to stop at the Dancing Goat for lunch before getting to our destination.

Our destination was Normaway Inn. The Normaway Inn is 3 km up a country road in the Margaree Valley. It’s also the location of The Barn, a magnet for performing musicians. It’s literally a barn but for many years has been used for performers of all ages and types to put on small concerts. The Barn can seat about 100 + many more standing.

Ashley MacIsaac played a couple of sets – just himself and a piano player. Great reels, jigs and Irish songs. Energetic, excellent fiddler and a great raconteur. Ashley started playing at the Barn when he was 12 so he knows the people and the area and he was never short of anecdotes.

After playing the sets it was time to dance. The chairs were pushed aside, the floor cleared, a caller identified and the barn dance was on! What a hoot – not to say square dancing is my thing but we certainly had fun.

Calling it quits we spent the night at NormAway Inn. Highly recommended. Lovely hospitality, decent food and a lovely setting. A hearty breakfast saw us on our way. Not having much luck with hitchhiking the back country roads we walked 3 km to the main road and were soon picked up by a couple from Sydney who dropped us back at Baddeck Marina.

A great 2 day excursion off the boat.

Normaway Inn – main lodge

The Barn

Driveway to Normaway Inn

The Sailor’s Dilemna

August 3, 2019

“I found the best things in life are free – I found them very expensive” E.A. Bucchianari

Relaxing in an anchorage with good wi-fi we accessed the sailor’s bible, Noonsite, to read a recent news posting on propsed fee changes for boats visiting Palau. The title of the article is‘North Pacific; Palau fees increase by 400% for visiting foreign vessels’.

We have visited Palau twice in our offshore sailing experiences; once in 1988 and once in 2011. In 1988 we paid, in advance, a fee of $75 for a one month stay. On arrival we could find no official that would admit to having received our letter and cash (advance application required) and thus paid another $75. However, we were then told that because we had not applied in advance that we could only stay 10 days. Despite pleading with officials we could not extend our permit so rushed out to the Rock Islands and returned to Koror leaving 10 days later for the Philippines. Needless to say we were highly disappointed but were amazed by the dazzling beauty of the area.

Having wanted to stay longer we vowed over the intervening years to return to Palau. In 2011 we returned.

We weren’t required to apply in advance but we were only allowed to stay one month ( + 2 months X 1 month extensions) and the fee structure had changed. On arrival we paid $50 for the first month + a cruising permit of $80 for one month + $100 environmental fee + $100 ($50/person)/10 days to visit the Rock Islands (add another $100 if visiting jellyfish lake). There was also a departure fee which I cannot remember the cost. Needless to say we did not request a second month after learning we would have to once again pay for a cruising permit and other fees.

I tell this story because our experiences over 20 years of long distance cruising have shown a dramatic change in entry requirements for offshore sailing boats around the world.

Most western European countries and North America have not instituted cruising permit fees, environmental fees, diving fees, garbage fees and/or anchoring fees. One travels to most of these countries much as though one were camping or simply driving through. However, underdeveloped counties in search of ever needed cash are seeing the yachting community as easy targets for fees related to entering and travelling through their countries.

We have paid fees now for places like the Seychelles ($535 for 2 months), the Maldives (approximately $800/2 months, Chagos ($400/28 days + a requirement for wreck removal insurance – $880/year that covered wreck removal should one end up on a coral reef) and Sri Lanka (requirement that all boats work through a broker which adds to the fees) – $250 for one month. The list goes on and the fees keep on increasing.

In our 1980 voyaging, fees were low or non-existent except for French Polynesia. Polynesian fees were low but they did require all yachts to put a deposit down which was the equivalent of the cost of an airline ticket back to your home country. For us, from the West Coast of Canada, the cost should have been that for an airplane back to Vancouver but they wouldn’t accept anything but the equivalent cost of an airplane ticket to Montreal!

While cruisers complain (comes with the territory) it’s hardly a wonder that these countries adopt fees. Sailors are generally far better off than the people in remote places of the world. Like all sub cultures there is a vast differential in each yachts income. In the 1980’s the average size of boats voyaging offshore would have been about 10 metres whereas now the average yacht length is about 15 metres. Most offshore sailing yachts now come equipped with water makers, satellite communication devices and small percentage with washing machines and air conditioning. Does this mean there is a more affluent mix of yachts cruising offshore?

I know that we are better off now than in the 1980s but we saved our money and luckily don’t have to work along the way like we did in the 1980s. But we are 30+ years older! I don’t object to these added fees as I see it as a way in which these small countries add to their treasury. However Palau is an exception and a trend setter. They set fees in the 1980s and increased them slowly over the years and now they are exceeding all expectations.

And now they want to increase them by 400%! Is it worth it?

They are not the only country with beautiful countryside, exceptional diving and snorkeling and parks. Other countries will follow suit and it’s a trend we have been witness to for 40 years and for a portion of the cruising fleet it’s untenable. There are still many cruisers sailing offshore simply on a minimal income. Many have given up earnings to retire early and fullfil a lifelong dream. They have smaller and simpler boats outfitted with only the most necessary gear and look for the simplicity of isolated anchorages as a way to stretch limited incomes. With increasing fees the opportunities for enjoying ‘simple’ cruising becomes harder and harder. Eventually it will only be the larger and more luxurious yachts that will be able to enjoy these opportunities.

An often touted statistic used in economic studies on tourism is the amount of money spent by a tourist per day. For those on cruise ships I think the figure is an average of $35/day/passenger. For those in all-inclusive resorts I would expect it to be even lower since everything is paid for prior to leaving a home country.

I don’t recall any study I have read that has asked the offshore cruising community what their expenditures are. I’ll bet it’s way higher than most forms of tourism. We stay for longer periods of time in most countries, shop daily from stores or local markets, repair equipment involving the purchase of locally supplied boat parts, purchase fuel and a myriad number of other monetary activities.

It’s not only the spending of cash but sailors bring their work related backgrounds in to play whether they be doctors, nurses, mechanics, technicians, builders, refrigeration specialists etc etc. Not only offering asssistance to remote communities sailors participate in trade and commerce bringing hard earned cash into the communities by purchasing arts and crafts as well as foodstuffs. We are not like the average tourist who comes for a 1-2 week stay in a resort who rarely interact with the locals nor like those on cruiseships that disgorge tourists to rampage through an area and rush back to the cruiseships for their meals.

A very good example of the above is the work that many cruisers did in Dominica after the hurricanes in 2017 which devastated much of Dominica’s infrastructure. Cruisers came together from all over the Caribbean to help rebuild and donate whatever they could to the rebuilding of commercial enterprises that would go to suppport self sufficiency.

So where does this leave the sailor? In our experiences high latitude sailing experiences are usually free of fees. They are generally more welcoming, less travelled, more challenging BUT colder!

To stay sailing in the tropics make sure there is a line item in your budget for fees as they are getting more prevalent and ever increasing.

Lunenberg – A Gem

July 23, 2019
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Lunenburg – what a gem. Or is it just that we need a small town with a few services and a comfortable and safe anchorage to just kick back a little.

Despite the cutesy aspects of Lunenburg we were impressed at how vital the shoreline was with many of the old boat and fishing related activities keeping the town real and not simply a place for the enjoyment of tourists.

Fish of Lunenburg

We would sit out on deck under good weather and every afternoon watch the sailboats weaving in and out of the harbour. Some were taking the tourists out for sail but many were locals out enjoying the late beginnings of summer weather.

We could have stayed in Lunenburg the entire summer as the anchorage was good, the sun shone and the Mahone Bay cruising grounds lay close by.

Across the bay lies Lunenburg

Our stay was highlighted by a visit from my brother and a friend of a friend, Sue, who spent the day driving us around discovering where to get propane, where to store the boat for the winter and having a drive around complete with a short ferry trip across the La Have River.

Connie and Sue

 

La Have River ferry

 

Saturday morning market

Saturday was market day – and boy were we surprised. Held in the local arena there were great pickings. Everything from lambskins to eggplants and beyond. It was way larger than we were expecting and a great place to talk to locals since there was little advertising so generally tourists were not aware of what was happening.

Being so picturesque Lunenburg attracts a lot of tourists. There are some great arts and craft stores, good restaurants and a vodka distillery – Ironworks. I think we’ll return.




Oh Canada and the East Coast

July 11, 2019

Painting by Nadine Belliveau

What an amazing coastline here in Nova Scotia. The entire east coast is lined with inlets and small rivers running anywhere from a few 100 metres to kilometres long fingers. Many of them provide safe anchorages especially those that reach far inland. The coast offers a myriad number of choices to explore but we have little time to dawdle.

The late start to summer with cold and damp weather combined with the non appearance of the much loved summer southwesters made us dawdle all along the eastern seabord.

Port Mouton Bay

Like the picture above we woke to damp cool mornings with limited visibility but we have kept plugging along making short hops then hunkering down, turning the heat on, making a hearty soup and hiding under blankets.

Liverpool – off in the distance another abandoned fish factory turned into a highly successful marijuana plantation.

There’s a mixture of names along the coast derived from both French and English. Whenever I go to pronounce the name of a town whch appears to have a french derivative I am corrected. So Port Mouton is not pronounced as the french spelling would infer but rather pronouced as Port Matoon. I can’t remember this most of the time when I’m telling someone the story of where we’ve been or where we have come from so have given up and call it Port Mutton!

Then there is the town of La Have and I always add an ‘r’ before the ‘e’! Um, somehow I have got to learn. Anyway it’s all very historical and lots of influences from the English and French settlers and then the Loyalists from south of the border and interestingly enough now the Syrians and other middle eastern nationalities that we hadn’t seen in Canada when we left 10 years ago.

For more information on the growth of the east coast read Annie Proulx’s novel Barkskins – a story spanning 300 years from the period of New France to our current period.

There are few cruising boats along this coastline. The exodus from the hurricane ravaged islands in the Caribbean usually comes to a stop around the Chesapeake. Those worried about insurance coverage, not us as we have none, are told they have to be north of 40 degrees during the hurricane season. That is also the belt at which temperatures start to drop below acceptable levels for those who have spent a long time in the tropics. The thought of coming further north horrifies them. So, the boats seen along this coast are mostly Norwegian (on their way home via Greenland and Iceland), the Brits who are used to damp cold temperatures, the odd American usually from the snowdrifts of Maine and New Hampshire and of course Canadians who live north of the Ice Wall. All hearty and prepared with heaters on board, heavy wool blankets, stout foul weather gear and lots of rum.

Moving North of the Ice Wall

July 4, 2019

9 years since Sage left Canada and here we are back north of the Ice Wall!

We made the jump across the Gulf of Maine deciding no longer was it in the books that we hold back waiting for warmer weather – it was now or never.

The crossing was one of the slowest in Sage’s history. Dogged by cells bringing rain and lightening and, taking away the little wind we had, left us bouncing around with slatting sails. Making the best of it and avoiding the closer-than-comfort lightening strikes we eventually sighted Cape Sable. Wow, we are gobsmacked – Sage is back in Canada.

And this is summer sailing on the east coast of Canada!

Our first Port of call was Shelburne, a clearance port for Canadian Border Services Agency(CBSA). Located approx 7 miles up an inlet it proves to be a great refuge for a tiny but extremely friendly Shelburne Yacht Club. With an approximately 50 metre dock there’s lots of space for visiting boats. Instead of anchoring we chose to tie up to the dock and take the power option so we could plug in the heater! Although the trip from Provincetown was only 2 overnights we’re tired, cold, wet and anxious for a little comfort – Florida is even sounding great at this point!

But Shelburne is very quaint. Low on services but high on friendliness it only takes a couple of hours wandering around to get our bearings. Of course, true to the east coast of Canada much of the 2 hours is taken up chatting with pedestrians, shopkeepers and any poor soul we ask directions to. We quickly get the lay of the land, are shocked by the prices of properties advertised in the real estate windows and enamoured by the architecture.

Beautifully maintained buildings dating back to the late 1700s

Like many small towns in North America the biggest impact to downtown is the tiny plaza and Sobey’s grocery store that was allowed to be built 1.5km from the main street. I bemoan the loss of foot traffic that would have helped downtown Shelburne to thrive. Out at the plaza cars come and go in a constant stream but the downtown has closed up shops, quiet sidewalks and a dirth of shoppers.

Art shops/galleries abound

One advantage of an abandoned downtown are the spaces left free allowing artists and craftspeople to rent spaces as workshops or display areas. The downtown is far more interesting than the local plaza with Sobey’s and the Dollar Store.

The inlet, anchorage and yacht club

The yacht club is quite the hive of activity. Unfortunately the yacht club suffered a fire which meant the club is now a trailer in the parking lot until the damage is repaired and they get to move back to their original building.

Shelburne Yacht Club

Most of the damage was a result of smoke so the club should be back into their building soon. In the meantime people gather outside for afternoon drinks when the sun shines, have regular sailing races on Thursday and manage to get the launch out for training runs.

Obviously the bowman is not impressed by his fellow crew members!

It’s a great place to connect with the history. The town dates back to the late 1700s when there were 17,000 people living here after the American war off independence.

Further North

June 30, 2019

We’ve made our way further north step by step. The limiting factor in moving north has been the weather. Cold, wet and grey spring weather has kept us down below and reticent to move north as fast as we would like. Nevertheless we have taken advantage of poor weather to see more of the north east American coastline.

We have found it to be a potentially beautiful cruising ground despite the array of mooring buoys that pepper every wonderful looking anchorage. Of course, we are moving through the area at a time when there are very few boats out here and the moorings remain unused but still blocking anchoring possibilities. So, what do we do? We just grab a mooring with the assumption no-one is coming; so let’s make use of it. This works in most harbours with the downside meaning we are never sure how secure the mooring would be in a blow.

Martha’s Vineyard

All the iconic names of the NE boating and glitterati set are in abundance in this area and all of them preparing for the summer onslaught – Cuttyhunk, Martha’s Vineyard, Nantucket etc. But a real treat for us was Wood’s Hole – a US oceanographic/climate change centre.

One of our sunnier days so no need to wipe our feet!

Woods Hole is a “scientific research organization that studies climate change impacts and solutions. WHRC was named the world’s top climate change think tank for 2013, 2014, 2015, and 2016 by the International Center for Climate Governance”

Woods Hole offered a glimpse into the scientific world of oceanographic and climactic studies. There were numerous buildings open to the public complete with interesting displays of some of the work completed or underway. We spent a couple of windy days tied to an unused mooring and walking around fascinated by the ships in dock and the public displays and aquariums.

Love the gate

Standing on the lifting bridge and looking to the totally protected inner harbour of Woods Hole

Cape Cod Canal

Time to move north – in a mixture of weather we decided we had best take the plunge and transit the Cape Cod Canal. Here the current can run at upwards of 7 knots and it’s the widest sea-level (127metres) canal in the world. No doubt we are going to meet sea-going ships on this canal!

In preparation we beat our way up Buzzards Bay to anchor at the southern end of the canal in order to be ready to transit the canal at 0400hrs. We spend the night on another mooring buoy and awaken at 0330hrs. The canal is lighted so it’s an easy start. Thinking the current wasn’t too strong we entered the canal and in an instant we are doing 9 knots.- wow. No ships, all lighted, constant current and before we know it we are in Cape Cod Bay.

There are no anchorages on the north side of the canal. The wind was light and Provincetown is only 20 miles across Cape Cod Bay. By 1200hrs we were tied to another mooring buoy that was marked Raider 3. We picked the largest mooring buoy in behind the breakwater thinking that it must belong to a huge boat and more than likely is quite secure (we later learnt it belonged to a 34ft local fish boat).

Provincetown’s bay is lttered with mooring buoys and the only place to anchor is well out in the bay. It’s a safe anchorage but the bay is like a wind tunnel that magnifies local winds. The anchorage is choppy and combined with rain and cool weather we didn’t like the thought of putting on oilskins just to dinghy into the docks hence we stayed oon the mooring ball until 2 days before departure when the harbourmaster asked us to move. There were at least thirty mooring balls behind the breakwater and only 5 were being used!

There is a marina in Provincetown ( Provincetown Marina)- the cost for our boat (38ft) for one night was US$240!! They also had showers (none onshore) and a laundromat both of which they said we could not use unless we were staying the night. Their cost was the most expensive of anywhere we saw in 9 years of cruising the world. For 2 nights in this marina we could stay a month in a luxurious marina in Grenada with pool, restaurants, wi-fi etc Needless to say we didn’t take them up on their offer not did anyone else other than a super yacht and three visiting powerboats from Boston.

However, we did enjoy the Provincetown Film Festival including 2 great movies. One was called Maiden and the other was Yesterday. There were others but both of these were very enjoyable.

From Provincetown streets

Provincetown also has many other things to enjoy but again weather played its part in restricting movement and then it was time to go.